Another day, another secure facility to infiltrate. Life as a commando is tough—especially when you get stuck with your back up against a wall. Your jet pack’s at the cleaners, you left your grappling hook in your other pants, radioactive spiders are hibernating this time of year…as you run through your wall-scaling options, you’re about to give up, until you remember your handy “vertical ascender” pack! Powerful enough to carry 300 pounds, the device uses vacuum suction to turn a human into a wall-crawler.
In fact, you’re not sure how you forgot you were carrying it in the first place: it’s bulky, heavy, and makes a racket like a vacuum cleaner.
Marconi and assistants erecting a radio antenna.
They call themselves hacktivists. Or they say they’re doing it just for the lulz: Some hackers take over sites, swipe users’ information, and then post their exploits online just to make the point that hey, you losers aren’t as safe as you thought you were. Better fix that gaping hole in your electronic chain link fence.
It may seem like the kind of public embarrassment only possible in the networked age (at least, Sony probably remembers the era of the Walkman a lot more fondly than this last mortifying year of being hacked again and again), but as Paul Marks writes in New Scientist, it ain’t necessarily so. Just ask Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless telegraph.
That grease trail you’ve smeared on your smart phone’s touchscreen could give away more than your lightsaber skills or virtual girlfriend’s whims: Would-be smudge attackers, a recent paper argues, could follow your finger oils as a clue to your passcode.
In the paper “Smudge Attacks on Smartphone Touchscreens,” which we first saw on Gizmodo, a team in the computer science department at the University of Pennsylvania tried to pick out grease patterns from Android phones by photographing the phones and enhancing the patterns with photo-editing software. From the paper’s introduction:
“We believe smudge attacks are a threat for three reasons. First, smudges are surprisingly persistent in time. Second, it is surprisingly difficult to incidentally obscure smudges through wiping or pocketing the device. Third and finally, collecting and analyzing oil residue smudges can be done with readily-available equipment such as a camera and a computer.”